InternFeel: Hello Aprajita, it’s pleasure to have you here. Please tell us about yourself.
Aprajita: Hello! I am Aprajita Bansal. Presently I am pursuing B.tech in Chemical Engineering at Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat (NIT, Surat). I am from Kota, Rajasthan. I like listening music, watching sitcoms, romcom Hollywood movies and spending time with my family and friends.
IF: Which internship you got the chance to take? What is it all about? Stipend and duration?
Aprajita: I got selected for Mitacs Globalink Research Internship in Canada. This internship provides an opportunity to work as a research intern in one of the universities of Canada for 12 weeks. I got to work in University of Waterloo. My stipend was 200 Canadian dollar per week. Also Mitacs sponsored my accommodation and transportation.
IF: How you came to know about these internships? Generally what was your way of being in touch with the media to get the information about the various internships?
Aprajita: A friend of mine told me about this program and then I got further details from Mitacs website http://www.mitacs.ca/globalink. Then I referred various internship portals to prepare SOPs, Research rationale etc.
IF: How much competitive is the selection process? What things you feel are looked for in the applicant by the selectors?
Aprajita: The selection procedure is quite competitive. Also, generally IIT students have upper hand in such programs. So, being a NITian, it is a bit more competitive. I believe my good CGPA (9.17), an efficient Statement of Purpose, a good Research rationale and Letters of recommendation from renowned professor got me selected for this internship.
IF: What qualities of yours – educational, you feel helped you in having an edge over the selection process?
Aprajita: My work at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata (IISER-K) during last summer break (May-July 2013) and my CGPA. My previous internship helped me getting a good research outlook and also a good LOR from the professor.
IF: Approximately when you got the news for the selection? How was the celebration?
Aprajita: I got to know about my selection in end of February. Coincidently, the news came during my sister’s wedding. So it was a double celebration! The background was already set: music, sweets, relatives and friends!!
IF: Any problems that you faced before joining, which you feel could have been easily avoided if known in before? Any problems related to Visa in your foreign internship?
Aprajita: Passport should be made beforehand. Also apply for visa beforehand to avoid the mess. Actually, I didn’t face this problem, but some interns did because their passports were not ready.
IF: Any common mistakes which you feel students should avoid while searching and applying for internships?
Aprajita: Whenever you are applying for an internship, firstly decide whether you want to go for research internship or an industrial one which depends on your future career plans. Also, if you are going for research, make sure that it is of your field of interest, be specific about it! Otherwise you won’t enjoy doing your work. Arrange for letter of recommendation well in advance.
IF: So Aprajita, could you please highlight us with what work/research project you carried out during the internship period? It’s application in near future and your work in it?
Aprajita: My research title was: Application of nano-catalysis for green processes. I prepared nano-catalysts, analysed them and performed reactions using prepared catalysts for desirable products using glycerol as one of the reactants. It helped me acquiring in depth knowledge in research field like catalysis for green processes and certain characterization techniques.
IF: How was the work culture of your place? What was the best thing about it and the internship?
Aprajita: Co-workers were from different countries like China, France, Vietnam it was a great experience interacting with them. About the university culture, it was much disciplined and well scheduled. My work time was of 8 hours in week days and I had day off on weekends.What I liked more was I had access to equipment and instruments that I haven’t had much before in my college and last internship.My lab environment was very friendly. People in my lab were quite affable.
IF: As with almost everything, what were the cons of the internship? The elements which you felt, if wasn’t there could have made this internship super awesome?
Aprajita: Presence of my guide during entire internship would have been better since she is a visiting professor in a university in different country, she had to go there.
IF: Was this your first internship?
Aprajita: No before Mitacs I did one in my second year summer break at IISER, Kolkata and also did training at DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd. in third year winter break.
IF: It would help the readers and other aspirants if you could bring a comparison among your two different internship experiences.
Aprajita: Firstly, selection is tougher for Mitacs since it is an international program and students from countries like India, China, Brazil, Vitenam, etc apply for this. Secondly easier access to resources being it laboratories, instruments, libraries etc. Also weather was very nice and domestic transportation was quite safe and easy.
IF: Were there any special events during the internship?
Aprajita: There were many trips with co-interns during weekends like trip to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Roller coasters in Canada’s Wonderland were just mind-blowing. Also had a field trip and I got to visit Shell, Sarnia.
Could you please guide the readers on any application related area? Any special areas which they should pay importance or anything specific which may give them extra edge?
Aprajita: Mainly, Statement of Purpose. It should be very specific and should match with project preference. It can lead to selection or rejection. So, SOP should be effective.
To which all people you would, like to thank in context of this internship?
Aprajita: I would like to thank my friend – Jainam who told me about this internship, my parents, sisters, Prof. Flora Ng, my PhD guide, my labmates, Mitacs co-interns at University of Waterloo and Mitacs organisation for providing me this unique opportunity.
How much difference this period summer vacation made in your intellectual capabilities and mind-set. In broad terms what are your gains from this?
Aprajita: I got good exposure in the field of catalysis and that helped make my decision more firm about pursuing masters abroad.
Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be?
Aprajita: It is a good initiative. Interviews play a key role in getting more information about internships because it is from someone who has already experienced it.
So Aprajita, we are at the end of the interview. From the entire team of InternFeel, we thank you for taking out your time and sharing your experiences with us, for everyone. We wish you best of luck for all your future endeavours.
Aprajita: Thank you so much.
Interview taken by Darshit Jasani,
InternFeel Student Associate